The name ‘grammar school’ was adopted by public schools for children from 10 to 14 years of age, following a primary stage from 5 to 9 years of age. State grammar schools are free to those who pass the selection tests. Grammar schools are also state-funded but they select their pupils using an entrance exam called the 11-plus independently conducted by each school.
Grammar schools are selective, they offer academically oriented general education. Entrance is based on a test of ability, usually at 11, called the Eleven Plus (11+). Comprehensive schools, on the other hand, are non-selective, they do not select pupils on grounds of ability.
Grammar schools are state secondary schools, which select their pupils by means of an examination taken by children at age 11, known as the “11 Plus”. Pupils who pass the exam go to the local grammar school, while pupils who do not go to the local “secondary modern school”. Comprehensive schools, on the other hand, are non-selective, they do not select pupils on grounds of ability.
There are only about 163 grammar schools in England, out of some 3,000 state secondary schools and 69 grammar schools in Ireland. Around 167,000 students get admission to those schools each year.
Grammar schools select their pupils by means of a test, known as the 11-plus, which is taken by pupils in the last year of primary school (Claus year 6 at the age of 11). Grammar school entrance exams can consist of all or a subset of Numerical reasoning (maths), Verbal reasoning, English comprehension, punctuation and grammar, Non-verbal reasoning and Creative writing, etc.
Each school or consortium of schools independently decides a minimum threshold mark to pass. The actual marks from these tests, referred to as raw marks, are never disclosed, instead parents are given Standard Age Scores (SAS).
The mere passing of the 11 plus exam does not guarantee a place at a grammar school. A range of other criteria like the student’s rank in the overall list of students’ 11 plus scores, age and the geographic distance from a grammar school, etc are taken into consideration while declaring the final list of the selected students. Many grammars have catchment areas and pupils must live within the area by a set date to be eligible to take the exams and potentially gain a place.
If your son or daughter is sitting 11-plus in September 2018 for admission to secondary school in Sept 2019, the best time to start depends entirely on their current attainment levels. He or she may only need a few hours of exam practice, or, if there are deeper learning gaps, they are likely to benefit from several months of regular weekly tuition.
Usually, the process should start two years in advance.
Grammar school entrance exams can consist of all or a subset of Numerical reasoning (maths), Verbal reasoning, English comprehension, punctuation and grammar, Non-verbal reasoning and Creative writing, etc.
The most widely used exam publishers for 11 plus exams in the UK are GL Assessment or CEM (Uni of Durham).
- A student should prepare for all the subsets using a range of sources of books.
- Be disciplined and undertake regular in studied and section practice tests.
- Develop strong core skills in English (incl. a large vocabulary), maths (incl. speedy arithmetic) and reasoning (verbal, non-verbal & numerical).
- Focus on speed, time and accuracy.
- Limit the use of technology.
- Take mock tests.
- Keep calm and be confident.
Key Stage 2 – Years 3 to 6 – for pupils aged between 8 and 11 years old. Key Stage 3 – Years 7 to 9 – for pupils aged between 12 and 14 years old, Key Stage 4 – Years 10 to 11 – for pupils aged between 15 and 16 years old, and. Key Stage 5 – Years 12 to 13 – for pupils aged between 17 and 18 years old.
Eleven-plus tests take place in September of children’s final primary school year (Class 6th at age of 11 years) with results provided to parents in October to allow application for secondary schools for the following year (Class 7th at age of 12-13 year). So, a student must start preparing for exam well in advance, almost 2 years in advance (Class 5th at the age of 11 years). The Applications forms for Grammar school entrance tests usually open in the months of April/May and the tests are conducted in the month of September of that year. The 11 plus exam results are announced in October so that the parents can apply their preferences for the secondary schools to local councils for the following year.
Hence, if your son or daughter is going to join a secondary school in September 2021, the Applications forms for Grammar school entrance tests will usually open in the months of April/May 2020 and the tests are conducted in the month of September 2020. The 11 plus exam results will be announced in October 2020, so that the parents can apply their preferences in Oct 2020 for the secondary schools to local councils for the September 2021.
For specific dates please visit websites of your local grammar schools.